Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters (The Era of Vampires) Reviews
Give it a look if you're feeling brave, but this one just didn't grab me.
I Like Horror Movies
The Chinese DON'T HAVE VAMPIRES in their mythology. The ghoulish undead are REALLY CALLED "KYONSHI".
The dubbers try to westernize the Kyonshi and all of it's unique traits by saying "OUR VAMPIRES ARE VERY DIFFERENT."
I find that rot...hard to swallow.
Entertaining even if it did drag at times.
Starring: Ji Chin Hua, Kwok-Kwan Chan, Ken Chang, Suet Lam, Michael Chow Man-Kin, and Anya
When master vampire hunter (Hua) and his four apprentices (Chan, Chang, Lam, and Chow Man-Kin) are seperated after a disastrous confrontation with a Vampire King, the four young men take up jobs as servants in the house of a mysterious, wealthy embalmber, because a magical compass indicates the Vampire King might be hiding in his sprawling home. They soon become embroiled in a series of plots swirling around the old man, his newly-wed son and daughter-in-law (Anya), and his rumored hidden treasure. Meanwhile, the vampire continues to kill....
"Vampire Hunters" is a vexing movie. I like it, because it has the feel of the early volumes of Rumiko Takahashi's "Inu-Yasha" series, back when it was more horror focused than adventure strip/soap-operatic-like. (I know "Inu-Yasha" is set in Japan and this film takes place in rural China of the 1700s, but the tone and feel were the same--innocent peasants, and even powerful bandit lords, being slaughtered wholesale by supernatural creatures, with young heroes with magical powers coming to their defense.) I also liked the treatment of undead and zombies vs. vampires and the whole "progression" that the film uses--and I really loved the "zombie wrangler" and the scheme he and the other villains cooked up to create a distraction to get at the old man's treasure. However, the film has too many subplots and too many characters, and nothing gets fully resolved or explained because the various elements are tripping over each other and getting in each other's way. (There are four young vampire-busting heroes in the film, but only one plays a major role, and the film loses track of two or three of them for stretches at a time, for no reason other than there isn't time to deal with them. And to make the film even more crowded with characters, two of the vampire hunters get "love-at-first-sight relationships, only one of which is dealt with in any real way other than having it there.)
The cgi/wire-fu fight scenes are okay, and the Vampire King is very creepy (and fantastically, graphically gory in the way he both feeds and kills). The acting put me in mind of the old Kung-Fu films from the 1970s, but this is not a put-down, because the film also reminded me to some extent of the Hammer Films from the 1950s and 1960s. If only the story had been less crowded with characters and subplots, "Vampire Hunters" could have been an excellent little horror/action flick. As it is, though, for all the ways it reminds of other films and graphic novel series that I really like, and as much as I like the extremely creepy undead critters in the film, I can't recommend that you check it out.
(It's a shame, because for the first ten or so minutes, I thought this was going to be winner.)
The hunters-Thunder,Lightning,Rain and Wind-are indistinguishable from one another. When I read the synopsis, I was looking forward to each character costumed in such a way as to relate their affinity with each weather pattern. But they were all wearing grey clothes and their "moves" had nothing to do with thunder,lightning,rain or wind! Boring...
Now, some of the fight scenes are absolutley fantastic, beautiful and graceful. The best part of this movie was the sets...but when you have real ancient temples at your disposal, they better be good!
I have to tell you the truth though, I fell asleep in the middle and woke up at the end only to find that I apparently hadn't missed much!
sidenote: I also noticed that this is one case where you MUST read the subtitles - the English voice-over is translated so badly that I laughed out loud and changed it back to subtitles...the only time the English voice-over has been any good was in Japanese to English films so viewer beware, don't be lazy! Read the damn subtitles - you'll never be disappointed!